BBC EastEnders Jack Branning’s daughter Penny returning to Walford with cousin Lauren

Dean Wicks isn't the only character to be making a dramatic return to Walford, with a Branning family reunion now on the cards for EastEnders.

Lauren, played by Jacqueline Jossa, will soon be making her long-awaited return to Albert Square, and she won't be alone, with her cousin Penny also returning to the iconic square.

Penny, who is the daughter of Jack Branning, has been living in France with her mum, Selina, for the last 15 years but is now set to reunite with her estranged father.

Rising star Kitty Castledine has been cast as Penny, who was played by child star Mia McKenna-Bruce back in 2008.

Speaking of joining the show, Kitty said: “I didn’t expect to start my EastEnders journey so soon out of drama school – I can’t actually believe it!

"My whole family are EastEnders fans, and I remember sitting on my Nanny Kay’s lap to tune in, and now they get to watch me in Albert Square.

"The inclusion of disabled talent on screen is so important to me as a wheelchair user, so I’m thrilled to be playing a character as feisty and cool as Penny.

"She’s thrown into the middle of the drama straight away, and I can’t wait to see what she gets up to."

And EastEnders Executive Producer Chris Clenshaw said: "It’s been a long time since Penny Branning was in Walford, and she’s a very different person from the one our viewers might remember.

"Kitty is a terrific addition to the show, and we’re looking forward to seeing Penny back in Albert Square."

The return of Lauren and Penny comes after a number of exits from the show, with popular character Karen Taylor leaving the soap in the coming weeks.

Shona McGarty, who has played Whitney Dean since 2008, has also announced that she will be leaving the soap at the end of the year.

Announcing her exit, Shona told The Sun on Sunday: “I have decided to spread my wings and will be leaving EastEnders. I have loved my years in the show.

“I have been trusted with some incredible storylines and have made amazing friendships — and family — which will endure.”

A source close to the star also claimed that Shona is hoping that her character, Whitney, is not killed off, so that the door is "left open" for her character to make a return in the future.

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